There is a clear moral case for supporting unpaid carers. They play an essential role in the lives of the people they care for; they often do so at a cost to their own wellbeing. 

But what is the economic case for supporting carers? And to what extent does the evidence base support this case? Where there are gaps in the evidence, how might they be filled? 

Carers play a vital role in the lives of the people they support. There has been a steady increase in the number of unpaid carers in the UK over recent years, from around 8.2 million in 2011 to 9 million in 2014. Given the pressures of an ageing population, the demand for carers is likely to continue increasing.

It is also well known that carers often neglect their own health and wellbeing: they are twice as likely to have poorer physical and mental health compared to non-carers. 

These factors alone make a compelling moral case for supporting carers. But what about the economic case? From an economic perspective, what are the main arguments for supporting carers? To what extent are these arguments supported by current evidence? Where the evidence is weak, what should be done to fill analytical gaps?

NHS England’s Patient Experience Team commissioned the Strategy Unit and ICF to provide a scoping review to examine these questions. The report and a one page summary are below. We are especially interested in hearing from people who are keen to advance the analytical agenda set out in the report.